*To hold peaceful prayer protest during their plenary March 1st
By Myke Uzendu
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) will as from Ash Wednesday, this year, February 26, organise a day of protest and prayer across the country in protest of rusing insecurity and killings in the country.
Making the resolution known through the Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), the Bishops expressed deep disappointment over increasing killing of Nigerians by terrorists and bandits as well as kidnappings, rising level of corruption and general hopelessness especially among the youth.
The CBCN had through its member-Bishops drawn attention of the government to the debilitating situations in the country.
Just last week, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, while preaching the homily at the burial of a senior seminarian who was abducted and killed along with three others who were later Fred by suspected Fulani bandits, stated that the President Muhammdu Buhari’s administration has failed woefully.
But rather than address issues the cleric raised, presidential spokesmen engaged the cleric in name calling and dismissed his remarks as the rantings of a desperate man.
Disappointed that government seem not to be interested in taking sustained practical steps at restoring normalcy, the Bishops ordered all Catholics to begin this year’s 40 days Lenten period with begins on the Ash Wednesday by wearing black clothes or putting on black arm band throughout the day.
The climax of the prayer protest would be on the preceding Sunday March 1st with the adorning of black clothes to churches throughout the federation and conduct of prayer protest from the CSN headquarters at Durumi, Abuja up to Our Lady Queen of Nigeria, Catholic Pro-Cathedral, Garki, Abuja.
Statement by the Secretary-Generwlbof CSN, Rev. Fr. Zacharia Nyantiso Samjumi states: “I have been directed by the Administrative Board of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria to communicate to you that in the face of the current security situation, the Church needs to speak out in word and action against the level of insecurity in the country.
“The Board is directing that on Ash Wednesday, 26 February 2020, all Catholics, in solidarity with the many kidnapped and killed persons, stage a protest wearing black. Every Diocese is to, please, organise the Prayer Protest.
“The Board will, in due course, send a brief message to be read in all our churches prior to the procession”.
And just yesterday, the subsequent message was sent by Rev. Fr. Rowland Nwakpuda (Vicar for Pastoral Affairs), Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, who suspended evening masses in all city parishes in Abuja and directed all Catholics to proceed to the CSN for the prayer protest.
In his message to the Parish Priests he stated: “Dear Fathers,
Kindly inform your parishioners tomorrow of the following: (1). On Ash Wednesday, all Catholics are expected to dress in BLACK.
“(2). On Sunday 1st of March, there shall be no evening Mass in our City Parishes.
“That evening, we shall have a peaceful prayer protest against the incessant killings and insecurity in our country”.
The Auxiliary Bishop of Abuja, Most Rev. Anselm Umoren, confirmed the development, adding that “the nation’s leaders across all strata needs prayers because they seem to be missing the point of what providing leadership mean. They are becoming increasingly selfish, nepotism and have not realised that security of life and property is the primary purpose of government, just as improving the welfare of the masses”.
He urged all Catholics to keep to the directives and asked them to intensify their prayers so that leadership will begin to play their primary duties.